Steelhead fishing restrictions in mid-Columbia, John Day, Walla Walla
JOHN DAY, Ore. — Due to ongoing low returns of upriver summer steelhead in the Columbia Basin, fishing restrictions will continue in the new year in the Columbia River mainstem upstream of The Dalles Dam and in the John Day and Walla Walla Rivers.
While the 2022 upriver summer steelhead return to Bonneville Dam of 123,871 fish came in higher than the preseason forecast of 99,700, this run was still just 45 percent of the recent 20-year average of 277,000 steelhead, marking the seventh consecutive year of below-average returns. Since 2017, Oregon and Washington fishery managers have implemented a number of fishery restrictions throughout the Columbia River and various tributaries to further reduce steelhead mortalities.
During winter and early spring, upriver summer steelhead stage in the mid-Columbia and surrounding tributaries before migrating to spawning areas throughout the basin. Anglers may only retain hatchery steelhead in these areas but encounter rates with wild steelhead can be high. As catch-and-release fishing results in some mortality of wild fish, additional protections are needed including complete closures in the John Day and Walla Walla rivers where the majority of fish that return are of natural origin.
The following regulations will be in effect starting Jan. 1, 2023:
Columbia River mainstem upstream of The Dalles Dam
Steelhead retention closed Jan. 1-March 31 from The Dalles Dam upstream to the Oregon/Washington border (upstream of McNary Dam).
The retention closure extends upstream of the state line; see WDFW’s fishing regulations.
John Day River
Both angling for and retention of steelhead will be closed from Jan. 1-April 30 in the following areas:
From the mainline railroad bridge to Tumwater Falls within the John Day River Arm.
From Tumwater Falls up to and including all tributaries of the John Day River basin.
Walla Walla River
Both angling for and retention of steelhead is closed from Jan. 1-April 30 from the state line to the confluence of the North and South Forks.
After a record low run of upriver summer steelhead in 2021 that closed steelhead fishing on the Deschutes River for the first time since 1978, ODFW fishery managers implemented frameworks to provide more transparency on when tributaries close to fishing. To see the frameworks visit https://myodfw.com/articles/steelhead-management-columbia-snake-river-basins.
The Deschutes and Umatilla Rivers have met thresholds to remain open under permanent regulations and will be open to hatchery steelhead retention as of Jan. 1, 2023.
Remember to always check in-season regulation changes before fishing by visiting the Recreation Report / Fishing Report for your zone and clicking the Regulation Updates tab https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report.